Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Is love a fancy or a feeling?

Today, a sonnet from Hartley Coleridge, eldest son of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. A poem of his came to mind as I was working on the Shakespeare poems. Not that I knew it was Hartley Coleridge's poem, at the time, but I thought of the line "Is love a fancy, or a feeling?", having no idea what it was from, really. Turns out I knew the line because of the 1995 production of Sense & Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. Winslet's Marianne voices the question to Elinor, saying "Is love a fancy, or a feeling, or a Ferrars?" (Too bad the poem was written 22 years after the novel, but it was a nice addition anyhow, Ms Thompson.)

Is love a fancy, or a feeling? No,
It is immortal as immaculate Truth.
'Tis not a blossom, shed as soon as youth
Drops from the stem of life— for it will grow,
In barren regions, where no waters flow
Nor ray of promise cheats the pensive gloom.
A darkling fire, faint hovering o'er a tomb,
That but itself and darkness nought doth shew*,
Is my love's being,— yet it cannot die,
Nor will it change, though all be changed beside;
Tho' fairest beauty be no longer fair,
Tho' vows be false, and faith itself deny,
Tho' sharp enjoyment be a suicide,
And hope a spectre in a ruin bare.


*shew: pronounced "show" (just as "strew" is pronounced "strow")

Form: It's an Italianate sonnet, written in iambic pentameter (five iambs per line: taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM), and using the following rhyme scheme: ABBAACCADEFDEF.

Discussion: According to Coleridge, Love is a constant, "immortal as immaculate Truth". If you'd like a Shakespeare analogy, this is similar to the Bard's Sonnet 116, quoted the other day in the clip from Much Ado About Nothing that I shared with you. Or, if you prefer a biblical analogy, it's similar to I Corinthians 13:7-8: "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

I hope you liked today's poem selection. I know I did. And now, I'm off to work on my own Shakespeare poems. *rubs hands with glee*

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